From this case an important ethical consideration is raised i.e. Ethics in Advertising. The compact oxford English dictionary (2005) defines ethics as a set of principles that influence conduct. These principles are derived from norms and values of society. The motivation to adhere to ethics comes from societal expectations of behavior and legislative compliance. “Advertising is any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor” (Kotler et al. ,2008, p486). Advertising is carried out to inform the customers and prospects about products, persuade them to buy a product or believe in offered values, remind them to create a brand recall and reinforce desired behavior and perceptions (Kotler et al. 2008, p487).
As demonstrated in the case McDonald’s was seen to initially promote its supersized meals to consumers through use of advertisements and in-house promotions. Such advertisements were directed towards children to influence current and future behavior. “Sales promotion is some sort of inducement” (Cravens & Piercy, 2005, p.354). It is imperative to note here that McDonald’s has used extensive inducements through advertising campaigns showing Ronald McDonald with children. It builds the perception of a fun filled experience for these young impressionable minds and entices them with fancy little limited editions of Mac toys available with happy meals. The question that arises is even if such advertisements are legal, can they be deemed ethical? Belch, G.E. & Belch M.A. (2003) report that children are vulnerable to advertisements as they lack skills to critically evaluate advertisement claims or differentiate between programs and advertisements altogether. It is also an established fact that advertisements aimed at children are aimed to build lifelong impacts on their purchase decisions and add them to the future pool of loyal customers. Moreover, McDonald’s did not provide sufficient information about nutritional values of its burgers and therefore concealed information that could have altered the purchase decisions of parents. Obesity is a rising health problem in US and much of Europe. McDonald’s and other fast food chains should be responsible enough to report the facts of their offerings. It is an essential part of observing ethics in advertising that facts should be integrated into advertisements and other forms of communications.
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